You don't have to take a winter holiday to the snow-covered mountains or reside near an area where you can easily hit the slopes, to know that skiing is an amazing activity and your chance to get some exercise during the cold winter months. And we all know that it is very much needed, especially after the Christmas all-you-can-eat period.
Imagine: you, being on a speedy chairlift with your brand new skis and well-moulded boots looking through your UV-protected goggles down at the carefully pisted runs, and thinking of your lunch reservation at a gorgeous mountain restaurant. Nowadays, skiing is not just a sport. It is a way of life you live in winter.
But in the beauty of the white hills, have you ever asked yourself the ultimate questions? Where does skiing come from? Who invented skiing? Or when was skiing born? Let's have a look if we can answer some of those questions so that we could get some sleep tonight.
How was Skiing Invented?
You might remember the scene from the Ice Age movie where the sloth accidentally stepped on two pieces of wood and slid them down the snowy hill. Surprisingly, we are not that far from the truth there. Maybe it was not exactly the sloth, but the first sign of skiing was actually traced back to the ice age period. Some cave arts had been found in Central Asia that indicate men travelling across the ice plains and through deep snow on two very long planks of wood. However, at that time, skiing was used for transportation, such as transferring supplies and travelling from village to village during the harsh winter months—which doesn't seem quite as much fun as it does now.
So how the first skis actually looked like? Skis of that time resembled two-meter boards of wood coated in horsehair, these have been discovered in China dating back 8000 years. The idea of the inventors was that having such a wide surface area would make slogging through deep snow easier as you'd be less prone to sink. Could you imagine skiing on something like that?
The true origins of skiing have long been debated, as evidence of skis being used in Russia, Asia, Alaska, and Scandinavia has been discovered. Although there can be only one winner, so it is commonly stated that it originated in the middle ages by the Sami indigenous community in Sweden.
There are quite a few facts that favour the victory of Sweden in this battle for skiing origins. This country has notoriously harsh and snowy winters and you would almost certainly never find a Swede who doesn't ski. The Sami community, which dates back to the Middle Ages, were farmers who hunted and farmed in the mountains and across the tundra on skis. Certainly, this was more like today's Nordic and cross-country skiing than downhill skiing. However, the update was coming slowly but surely.
The History of Alpine and Downhill Skiing
You can have a guess... who was involved in the development of skiing? I bet you would never tell. Through the 18th century, it has been discovered that the Norwegian and Swedish military employed cross-country skiing as a kind of exercise and to experiment with their endurance and stamina.
Even today, with our ultra-light skis and cutting-edge technology, we realize that this kind of skiing is difficult.
In addition to flat-ground skiing, the army began experimenting with downhill skiing. They would host contests for downhill skiing, shooting, and a variety of other skills. Just remember that next time you cry on the double black diamond.
As news of the excitement of downhill skiing spread, commercialization of the sport was unavoidable. Woodcarvers in Norway didn't waste time and started to develop new forms of wooden skis, such as a pointed and curved up tip, to assist in carving and prevent sinking into the snow.
As time went by, around the 1850s, a Norwegian legend called Norheim created skis with an arched structure, a narrow centre, and wider tips—a classic shape that is still utilized today! It really doesn't get old, right?
The Revolution in Skiing Industry
The first Winter Olympics took place in Chamonix, France, in 1924, however without the presence of downhill skiing in the games. Only the more well-known Nordic skiing was allowed to take part. Downhill skiing was starting to be increasingly popular not long after, and the sport was soon included in the 1936 Winter Olympics in Germany.
But, let's be honest. Would we be skiing if we had to climb the hill back up on our own feet? I doubt so. Luckily and conveniently enough, the first chair lift was invented in Sun Valley, Idaho, in the United States, in 1936. This came at the perfect time, as skiing was becoming a popular sport and recreational activity as a result of the Olympics, and skiers could now comfortably make their way to the summit with minimal effort. Hallelujah!
The revolution also progressed with other aspects. Like, in Mürren, Switzerland, there's one of the oldest ski resorts, and it was featured in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. As you can imagine, who wouldn't want to ski in James Bond's style? Just the presence of Mürren in this film boosted the popularity of not only the resort but of the whole skiing sport at the time.
And it wouldn't be us, mankind if we were ever satisfied with something. So no wonder the previous two types of skiing weren't enough for some enthusiasts and they switched downhill skiing to another level. And you know that history repeats itself, so it was natural that the International Ski Federation recognized freestyle skiing as a sport in 1979, and it made its debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. And who was the pioneer of freestyle skiing? Michael Edwards, also known as 'Eddie the Eagle,' competed in both the 70-meter and 90-meter jumps, finishing last in both, but winning over the crowd with his against-all-odds personality. You know how it goes - it's not important to win...
For freestyling you cannot have something regular, you need special gear, of course. And a special playground. The first twin-tipped skis were perfected in the mid-1990s, and ski resorts began to build snow parks. In 1989, the Bear Valley ski slope in California developed the first documented snow park. Yes, California.
The Scenery of Today’s Skiing
Ski resorts have evolved and grown over the years, and now they are home to people from all over the world, with thousands of new visitors arriving every day. Not to mention the huge business that has developed inside and around them. A ski holiday is now about far more than just skiing because resorts are packed with everything. And what does the winter holiday look like nowadays? You can go shopping, have dinner in a fancy restaurant, visit the spa or have your hair done. Everything that you would expect from a proper holiday. On a plus side, you are skiing some time of the day so that would justify your all-inclusive menu at a hotel.
Although these days no one would choose skiing as a hunting or transportation method, it's the enthusiasm for the mountains and snowy hills that draws us towards skiing and the fact that it became fun instead of a necessity, makes it the number one between the winter sports. So, let's get up and head out to have some fun in the snow!
Proudly Presenting Ski Ya Later!
You may know us, Snowfeet*, as a producer of all kinds of short skis, from Snowfeet, through Skiskates, to Snowblades. Yes, the inevitable has come and now we are joining the family of full-length ski producers with our one and only Snowfeet Skis called Ski Ya Later!
We were carefully choosing and sorting different materials and their composition to bring you the finest quality and ultra-durability that skis definitely deserve. We know buying skis is always an investment and we want to make it worthwhile. Not to mention that with high-quality materials you can be sure you're safe on the slopes and you're going to be the master of your ski and not vice versa.
And what it is that makes the top quality skis? First of all, wooden core, of course. We used unidirectional spruce plywood. Then we added a structured polyamide top sheet, included quality steel edges and we couldn't miss out on the sintered racing base. All the goods things packed in one ski. And, as a cherry on the cake, our very own cool mountain design. Simply a ski like none other.
Whether short or long, we've got you covered with any skis you fancy. And not only skis, we've got a lot more to offer. For example, did you know that you can wear a sled? Well, you probably haven't heard of Assled yet. Go get your winter gear at snowfeetstore.com to have even more fun and to get your skiing experience to another level.